Tag Archives: CreArtive

Beautiful Botanical Illustrations in Fifth Grade

I am constantly amazed at the skills of my students and this project was no exception … especially with regard to the boys.  Painting flowers isn’t generally their favorite thing to paint, but it takes a lot of patience to paint botanical illustrations and they were up to the challenge.

They were BEAUTIFUL!

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We began with quite a bit of discussion about how the point of botanical illustration is to accurately record the plant in all its forms.  Botanical Illustrations began as a scientific study that turned into an art form.  Artists work very hard to exactly represent the plant, down to dissecting the pods, showing what it looks like underground (roots, bulbs etc), showing leaves,  flowers and other parts in all their different forms.  Then they “glaze” watercolor in many sessions to get the colors just right.

I had a wide selection of plastic fruit and flowers for the students to choose from and they started their drawing.  Of course, we didn’t worry so much about the roots etc, just the flower/fruit and a stem and leaf.  Given our already tight time constraints, they worked exceptionally hard to get as far as they did.

After the sketch was done, students used watercolor pencils to add the color.  We talked about the blending of colors and how that helps with low lights and high lights and showing where one pedal ends and another begins (or one grape …)  I asked them to work with a minimum of 3 colors … starting with yellow (which I believe to be the foundation color for nearly all things “natural”.  

Being fifth graders, they have a really good background in color from all our other classes and they did a remarkable job thinking about color mixing and how it would help or hurt their painting.

All in all, it was a great send-off project for my lovely fifth graders… they are off to middle school!  This is my first group that I have taught from first grade on up and I really believe it shows in their work!  Good luck to them all!

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Filed under 5th Grade, Artist or Focus, Botanical Illustration, flowers, Medium, Paint, Watercolor, ~Blog~

Van Gogh Sunflowers in 2nd Grade

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Another of my favorites in 2nd grade because it seems everyone is successful with this project.  It is so beautiful that everyone comes away with a frame-worthy picture!  This project is one of the few that I spend 2 class times on and everyone finishes.

The first time we meet and after discussing Van Gogh and his interest in Japanese Woodcuts and his studies of sunflowers, students draw their LARGE sunflowers on 12×18″ black construction paper (I like Tru-Color).  The vase is a simple stencil to help save time and start the “large” process, which can be hard for some at this age.  I ask students to decide if their vase is clear glass or ceramic … if it is clear, what will we see?!  They then have to draw the stems in the vase, and many times nice marbles or rocks at the bottom for interest.  The vase needs to be sitting on something so students draw a line to show a tabletop.  This year, I had one student who thought to make his table small and round … very “out-of-the-box” thinking!

After all the pencil drawing is done, cover white glue along the pencil lines.  This will protect the black paper when dry and give it the woodcut effect after adding the chalk and pastels.  There is a fine line between too much glue and too little or dots instead of lines etc.  but in the end they all look beautiful.

DAY 2 – IT IS TIME TO ADD THE COLOR!  I found a use for the chalkboard chalk donated by a retiring teacher!!!  It brightens our pictures like crazy!!  We use the chalk along with 2 kinds of pastels – regular Cray-Pas and Flourescent Gallery Pastels and the contrasts really makes these sunflowers POP!  You have to use the chalk first and blend the pastels in last … the oil in the pastels repel the chalk.

I ask that students cover their entire paper with color and show them that by turning the chalk on its side helps with laying a base of color, as well as giving their art a different look from using the tip of the chalk.

Chalk and pastel tends to be very messy and doesn’t adhere to the paper well.  To make sure that these masterpieces can be enjoyed for a long time, we spray them at the end to seal everything.  Instead of using an aerosol of some kind (hair spray or you can by a non-toxic that still smells terrible) I mix a little white glue with water (about 1 part water to 6-7 parts water) in a spray bottle and spray across the art.  Lay it flat to dry and when dry it is ready to mount!

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Filed under 2nd Grade, Pastels, VanGogh, ~Blog~

Clay Busts in Fifth Grade

This project is always one I enjoy because I think it brings out the best in the boys.  The boys feel free to experiment a little and bring a little craziness to their bust I don’t always see with other projects.  Clay seems to be the medium most boys thrive with.  Don’t get me wrong … the girls do  great job too, but some boys really struggle with drawing and painting and all those fine motor skill activities and clay helps them realize they are creative and artistic!  It’s just like playing in the sand box or in the mud at the creek!

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By the time they are ready to do clay 3-d heads, students have not only used clay before, but we have talked a lot about the map of the face – where the features belong (did you know your eyes are really in the middle of your head – not up towards your forehead?!?!) and keeping things in proportion.  After some review on all these subjects, they are ready to rock and roll!  This project is one that ties a lot of concepts together and students are able to pretty much just enjoy what they are doing and everyone is successful!

The clay I use is gray, self-drying clay (a day or 2) and I try to give everyone a pretty generous amount.  A 25 pd brick breaks out to at least 65 students.  I purchase it at Blick Art.  Students can paint or Sharpie details on if they like after the clay dries.

Of course, our most valuable tool when using clay is our hands, but I also give students a simple toothpick, the sculpture tools I make from clothespins and a hook of paper clip, and it just wouldn’t be complete without the garlic press for cool hair.  I like using plates for the clay.  It really keeps the desks clean and helps with clean-up.

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Filed under Clay, Faces, ~Blog~

My First Post!

Welcome to CreArtive Sparks!  This is all about thoughts on the creative process… This is my first attempt at blogging and I am excited to be joining the bloggersphere.  I can’t promise daily updates, but I hope to make this a helpful, organic blog to all those folks who are looking for creative exploration.  I will speak a lot about my experiences in the classroom and art for children, but we are all children at heart~~ I would appreciate all your comments, questions and any inspirations you may have too!

Being creative is like breathing to me and I know there are lots of you out there that feel the same way.  I love talking about what everyone is doing and how they are doing it and I hope you share your thoughts and ideas here, as well as find your own inspiration!

Artfully yours,  Laura

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